I didn’t really have a true sense of how rough Alex Burrows’ season was until I looked at his game-by-game results. When I did that, I realized that there was only one week in which he actually found the back of the net.
From March 12-17, the Vancouver Canucks left winger scored five goals in four games, the only goals he would score in a 49-game campaign marred by injuries. But Burrows won’t simply sooth himself by blaming bad puck luck.
“Satisfaction is the beginning of regression,” he said. “Never be satisfied, keep working hard. I had a tough year with injuries and broken bones, but it’s a new year, a new chapter. A lot of us weren’t too happy with the season we had and it’s a fresh start for a bunch of us.”
The Canucks, who easily could have gone into rebuild mode after trading away Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler, instead went for a reload instead, with new GM Jim Benning making a big dent in free agency. Vancouver brought in Ryan Miller to be the No. 1 goaltender, while Radim Vrbata and his consistent goal-scoring prowess improves the offense.
“He’s a give-and-go player,” Benning said of Vrbata. “We feel he’ll work well with the Sedins.”
Of course, Burrows has usually been Henrik and Daniel’s running mate, but the agitating point-producer isn’t going to cut up Vrbata’s skate laces before camp this fall, even if the Czech veteran is poised to usurp his role on the top line.
“Funny story,” Burrows said. “I used to play junior with Radim in Shawinigan. He was a first-liner, I was a fourth-liner, but I got to play with him for a few games back then. During the past decade, I’ve always talked to him during warmups. We’ve gotten along. If he’s with the twins, great, or if I’m with them – at the end of the day, winning is more important than personal stats. That’s how I’m looking at it.”
The Canucks will be in tough to get back into the playoffs after missing out this past season. The West isn’t getting any easier and the razor-tipped Pacific Division is a far cry from the old Northwest, where Vancouver basically just had to show up to get the banner.
The new-look forward corps will include the Sedins, Burrows, Vrbata and new second-line center Nick Bonino (acquired from Anaheim in the Kesler trade). And while the Canucks do have some talented youngsters coming up the pipeline – Bo Horvat jumps to mind – the new GM isn’t going to throw them into the fire.
“I come from Buffalo and Boston, where we didn’t rush players,” Benning said. “That’s the philosophy I bring to Vancouver.”
Perhaps Horvat or Nicklas Jensen can make a big impact in camp, but right now the Canucks will rely on their top end and that means everybody, including Burrows, will have to bounce back from a season to forget.